Iranian ships force United States and UK vessels to change course in Gulf

Iranian ships force United States and UK vessels to change course in Gulf

On Saturday, the American missile tracking vessel USNS Invincible and three accompanying vessels were forced to change course because of the approach of Iranian fast-attack boats.

The "unsafe" encounter came just two days after an Iranian navy frigate came within 150 yards of the Invincible in the Gulf of Oman, just south of the Strait of Hormuz. The ship was then harassed by Iranian vessels once again on Saturday, forcing it and the British ships it was accompanied by to change course to avoid a collision.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official indicated that the vessels advanced to within 600 yards of the tracking ship, USNS Invincible before stopping. US officials told Fox News the latest version of the Fateh-110 missile has an "active seeker" system that helps it target ships at sea. U.S. Navy officials say that close encounters between American and Iranian assets near the Strait of Hormuz are increasingly common and potentially unsafe.

The U.S. Navy occasionally has confrontations with Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf but they do not usually reach the point of prompting warning shots by the U.S.

Long-term tensions between Washington and Tehran were reduced when the USA and several world powers agreed to end sanctions on Iran after an agreement to rein in the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions was signed.

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U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters, "Well I don't know how much of a pattern it is, we actually had seen quite an improvement in Iran's behavior until recently".

In November a small Iranian vessel allegedly pointed a gun at a U.S. Navy helicopter in the strait.

Iran fired a medium-range ballistic missile last month, apparent violating a U.N. Security Council Resolution.

According to the Associated Press, no warning shots or flares were fired in the incident. The gulf separates Oman from southeastern Iran.